Enhanced cell surface polymer grafting in concentrated and nonreactive aqueous polymer solutions

J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Mar 17;132(10):3423-30. doi: 10.1021/ja909174x.


Macromolecular cell surface modification techniques have shown tremendous utility in various biomedical applications. However, a major drawback concerns inefficient cell surface modification caused by the poor association of hydrophilic macromolecules with cell surfaces. Here, a novel, highly efficient, and universal strategy in which nonreactive "additive" macromolecules are used to modulate the grafting efficiency of cell surface reactive, hydrophilic macromolecules is described. Unprecedented enhanced cell surface modifications by up to 10-fold were observed when various concentrations of a suitable "additive" polymer was present with a constant and low concentration of a "reactive" macromolecule. The importance of this increased efficiency and the possible mechanisms involved are discussed. The cell compatible technique is demonstrated in the case of four different cell types--red blood cells (RBC), leukocytes, platelets, and Jurkat cells. A practical application of grafting macromolecules to cell surfaces in concentrated polymer solutions is demonstrated by the enhanced camouflage of RBC surface antigens for the development of RhD null RBC. In principle, the technique can be adapted to various macromolecular systems and cell types, with significant potential for biomedical applications such as live cell based technologies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Platelets / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Erythrocytes / chemistry*
  • Erythrocytes / immunology
  • Glycerol / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Jurkat Cells
  • Leukocytes / chemistry*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / chemistry*
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System
  • Succinimides / chemistry*
  • Surface Properties


  • Polymers
  • Rh-Hr Blood-Group System
  • Succinimides
  • polyglycerol
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • polyethylene glycol bis(succinimidyl succinate)
  • Glycerol